Extending the lifespan of our clothes isn’t just good for our finances, but also benefits the environment: the fashion industry is a major global polluter and human rights abuses are rife in the garment industries of developing nations.
If you want your clothes to last as long as possible, looking after them is the best place to start.
- Check the seams
If you want your clothes to last, you need to invest in well-made garments in good-quality fabric. Don’t assume that expensive items are best – check for yourself.
“The first thing to do when you’re looking at a piece of clothing is turn it inside out and pull at every piece of string you find,” – says Orsola de Castro of Fashion Revolution. – “When clothes are cheaply made, the seams are often shabby. If it starts to unravel – don’t buy it.”
- Know your fabrics
Every garment will eventually wear out after repeated wearing and washing, but the jury is out on which fabrics are the most durable. Some experts prefer the longevity of synthetic fibres such as polyester, while others favour natural fibres such as cotton.
- Do you need to wash it?
The more you wash clothes, the quicker they wear out. De Castro echoes Stella McCartney’s recent advice that we should refrain from over-cleaning clothes.
“If something is made from good-quality wool, such as a man’s suit, it’s designed to be brushed clean and not washed,” – she says.
If you must wash things in a machine, use a low heat, and put delicate fabrics in a laundry bag to reduce tearing.
- If you must wash things, do it properly
Items worn close to your skin, particularly underwear and socks, should be washed at an adequate heat. Don’t fling pants in with your dish towels on a 30C wash.
If you are worried about ruining your underwear, wash it at a lower temperature, but add an antibacterial cleanser to the wash.
- How to store clothes
A professional organiser Katrina Hassan recommends periodically decluttering your wardrobe.
“Get all your clothing in one space – I call it the power of the pile. A lot of people aren’t aware of all the things they own, until they see it.”
Decide which items to keep, and check them over for damage. Stack clothes in an upright position, so you can see everything you own at once.
Store expensive items in cotton suit bags to prevent moth damage.